FITNESS TRANSFORMATION: LAURENCE HINES
TODAY, LAURENCE HINES STANDS AT 175CM AND IS A HEALTHY 68KG OF LEAN MUSCLE. THAT WASN’T ALWAYS THE CASE. BULLYING LEAD TO BODY IMAGE ISSUES THAT MADE HIS LIFE HELL. THEN, HE LEARNED TO LOVE THE LAURENCE HE NATURALLY IS.
How life changed when he stopped trying to be someone else and allowed the real Laurence to thrive.
DNA: You’re in great shape and have put a lot of work into your body, but you were bullied as a kid and that played a part in making you the man you are today, right?
Laurence Hines: A very big part. In a positive way, it keeps me humble. I never look down on others because I know what it’s like to feel looked down upon and made to feel as if you don’t fit in.
There must have been negative consequences, too, though?
Yes. On the negative side, it made me very selfconscious about my body, but I now deal with that in a healthy way.
How old were you when the bullying happened? It started when I was about 6 or 7 due to my weight; I was a chubby kiddo. Then, when I reached my teens, I lost the weight and the bullying went from being about my weight to being about my sexuality. Were there media images of young men that had an influence on your body image?
Yes, very much so. When I was a kid, outside of Denzel Washington and Tyson Beckford, you didn’t see a lot of black, Latin or Asian sex symbols or teen idols being played up by the media. When I opened up magazines or heard my girls talking at school it was about guys who had that boy-band look or the California surfer look; very blond and lean like Jesse McCartney and Zac Efron, which I was not. Also at this time, the gay community glorified this look – the twink look.
Slim and boyish.
And how did you look at the time?
Naturally I was muscular and athletic.
Did you ever starve yourself to try and achieve a slimmer look?
Yes, I did. It got to be pretty bad. I won’t go into detail of what I did because I don’t want readers with eating disorders to read this and follow what I did. When I was struggling with my eating disorder I would read about people who suffered with eating disorders and get more ideas from what they did to achieve thinness. So, for that reason, I will not go into detail.
Did you think that by changing your body shape you’d be more accepted and therefore less bullied?
Oh yeah, I thought I would be more desirable and accepted. Sadly, I couldn’t see the beauty of having a naturally athletic build – which I had – because I was so brainwashed by the media.
Do you think gay men are more vulnerable to body image crises than straight men?
Hmm… no. I think gay men are just a bit more vocal about it. I work out with plenty of straight guys and, believe me, they have their insecurities when it come to their bodies or wanting to look a
Learn to truly love who you are. There is only one you in this world and that is your personal power.
certain way, but they are not as vocal about it as some gay men are.
When did you change your mind and think that your natural body shape was acceptable?
When I was about 18 or 19 I was reading a ton of European men’s fashion magazines, and even the magazines here in America, and they would feature very thin male models. That’s what I wanted to look like. Well, one day, I was browsing the magazine stand and it was, actually, the cover of DNA that caught my eye – not because of the obvious but because the cover model looked like a Greek god! The image was very masculine and strong. The model wasn’t famished or draped in high fashion. I saw the beauty in this cover, and his body type was closer to mine, and it made me realise that I didn’t have to be something I am not to become a model. I could be strong and healthy and that, in itself, is sexy.
We’re pleased to hear that because one of our aims with the men we choose for the cover is that they look happy and healthy. On the flip side, though, do you think magazines like DNA can have a negative effect on people’s body image? I’m sure it’s possible, it’s just that the super-thin models in other magazines had a negative effect on me. There are some guys who see these covers and do unhealthy things to try and achieve the look. As a personal trainer, I’ll be very honest with these guys… yes, a lot of hard work and a healthy diet play a role into looking like a cover model but there is a little photo retouching here and there. No one is perfect, and we should all strive to find beauty and love with the body we are blessed with and work with what we have.
Was your body image awakening related to your adult sexuality awakening? Or did you know you were gay much earlier?
I knew I was gay from childhood. I didn’t have sexual feelings as child but I knew I didn’t like girls in that way. As I grew into my teens I never tried to hide the fact that I was gay by dating girls and I am so thankful I never went through a time of confusion. I see so many men struggle with their sexuality, trying to escape from it through drugs and alcohol, hating themselves for being gay or bi. Society has not always been fair to the LGBT community, and being gay can be rough. I don’t think people realise how strong we have to be to withstand all that’s thrown our way. Things are getting better but there’s still a way to go.
What advice would you pass on to kids, and young gay men, about body image and selfesteem, from your own experience?
Learn to truly love who you are! There is only one you in this world, no other individual looks, talks, thinks or acts exactly like you and that is your personal power. You are the future; continue to stand up for what’s right. You all make me so proud.
What advice would you give about getting into shape and fitness?
Keep it healthy, with a healthy diet and workout routine. Try to partake in some kind of gym routine 4 to 5 times a week and keep it natural because you don’t know how long you’re going to live and you don’t want to screw up your body with diet pills or steroids. I don’t know about you, but I want to stay healthy for as long as I can. I plan to still be lifting in my seventies and eighties. If you take care of your body it will take care of you. Age just becomes a number. Personally, I don’t believe in that number.
You’ve done a lot of modelling – how does it feel knowing that now your body is admired across social media and in magazines?
I am so thankful for my friends and followers; they are like family to me. I keep in contact with many of them. I hope I can be an example for those who struggle with eating disorders or body image issues. Once you learn to accept and embrace who you truly are there will be no stopping you in life. Do you ever bump into those school bullies?
Yes, I have run into a few. One even asked for my number! I guess he wasn’t so straight after all. The others I have run into treat me with respect and the respect is returned. We are all adults now and I have forgiven them. You must always keep moving forward.